FSRH press statement: 2017 conception statistics indicate growing unmet need for contraception

Posted 15 April 2019

Date: 15 Apr 2019

Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements

Office for National Statistics (ONS) 2017 annual figures on conception rates for women in England and Wales published today show that the percentage of conceptions leading to a legal abortion in 2017 increased in all age groups in comparison to the previous year.

The latest annual ONS release shows that, in 2017, the percentage of conceptions leading to a legal abortion has increased from 18.9 to 20 for the 25-29 age group and from 14.2 to 15 for the 30-34 age group compared to 2016. In ten years to 2017, the percentage of abortions to women aged 25 and over has steadily increased.

In 2017 there were 847,204 conceptions to women of all ages, a decrease of 1.8% compared with 2016.

The long-term trend shows that women are increasingly conceiving at a later age. Conception rates to women aged 30-34 have risen almost continuously since 1990 by over one-third.

Dr Asha Kasliwal, President of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH), said:

"Rates of conceptions leading to legal abortions to women over 25 have been climbing continuously during the last decade, which might be indicative of an unmet need for contraception.

“What underpins this issue is the need for comprehensive sexual and reproductive healthcare services that cater to the changing needs of women across the lifecourse and are available throughout the country.

“Older women are spending more years of their lives managing their fertility and have been particularly affected by a fragmented women’s health commissioning system.

"The sexual and reproductive health of women needs to be placed at the heart of a national health policy agenda. The NHS Long Term Plan is a good place to start, and we welcome a national women’s health strategy led by the Women’s Health Taskforce.”



Notes to editors:

  • Office for National Statistics Conceptions to Women in England and Wales 2017 data available here
  • The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) is the largest UK professional membership organisation working at the heart of sexual and reproductive health (SRH), supporting healthcare professionals to deliver high quality care. It works with its 15,000 members, to shape sexual reproductive health for all. It produces evidence-based clinical guidance, standards, training, qualifications and research into SRH. It also delivers conferences and publishes the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health in partnership with the BMJ. 

For further information please contact:
Camila Azevedo
FSRH External Affairs & Standards Manager
Email: externalaffairsmanager@fsrh.org
Telephone: 02037945309